President Donald Trump is set to demand $8.6 billion for a wall along the southern border in the 2020 federal budget. This is despite Congress’ refusal to fund his proposed border wall during the last round of budget negotiations, which led to the longest government shutdown in history.
Trump is risking another government shutdown by demanding money for the border wall again. The White House plans to cut federal spending by 5% across the board as part of a battle against public spending. This may please fiscally conservative Republicans, but many of those same Republicans will not welcome spending billions on a wall.
Democrats believe the wall is unnecessary and immoral and their control of the House means Trump will have to make a deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As Pelosi proved during the last government shutdown, she will not give the administration funding for a wall. It would be politically impossible for Pelosi to do so.
Tax cuts passed by the last Republican Congress ballooned the deficit, but the White House seems unconcerned about it. Not all Republicans agree. As the deficit approaches $1 trillion, fiscal hawks will push for deeper cuts in federal spending, rather than increase taxes.
Attempts at deficit reduction will make spending $8.6 billion on a wall extremely difficult for Republicans, who have tried to paint Democrats as financially irresponsible. Ironically, the GOP has largely abandoned its commitment to fiscal discipline in the age of Trump.
Another government shutdown would be bad news for the President as he prepares a narrow path to re-election. The wall was a key campaign promise that hasn’t even started construction, despite the fact that Republicans controlled all three branches of government for two years.